Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Everton on Saturday was, just moments before kick off, available for fans in China to watch online with Mesut Ozil not included in their matchday squad.
The absence of Ozil, whose comments on Dec.13 criticising China’s policy towards its Uighur Muslim population provoked a major backlash in the country, led PPTV to show the game online, though only with an English commentary.
– Ozil deleted from Chinese computer game
– Toure: Ozil wrong to speak out
The decision of PPTV, in the middle of a three-year contract with the English Premier League worth ‘700 million, marks a positive turn for Arsenal. The club’s game with Manchester City on Dec.14 had been withdrawn in China due to Ozil’s comments both on State-run broadcaster Chinese Central Television (CCTV) and PPTV.
While CCTV did not show the Everton game, a source close to the broadcaster told ESPN that, if Ozil does not play, future Arsenal games are likely to be shown on television, starting with the Dec. 26 clash with Bournemouth.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Liverpool apologised to South Korean fans after using a thumbnail with the background of the Rising Sun flag to advertise a video, made available to members on the club’s homepage, about the 1981 Intercontinental Cup final played between the club and Flamengo in Tokyo.
The old Japanese imperial flag is seen as a symbol of militarism and oppression in parts of Asia that suffered under Japanese occupation in the first half of the 20th century, especially in South Korea — which was brutally colonized by its eastern neighbor from 1910 to 1945.
“Yesterday we published an image on our channels that caused offence,” Liverpool said in a statement that was visible only to those with South Korean IP addresses. “We took immediate action to rectify the error.
“We would like to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by the image.”
As the apology was available to view only in South Korea, there have been calls by Korean fans for Liverpool to post the same statement on all their social media channels. The issue of the Rising Sun flag is still a source of tension in Japanese-Korean relations which has spread to the football pitch in the past.
In 2017, the Asian Football Confederation fined J.League club Kawasaki Frontale after the club’s fans displayed the flag in a Champions League game at South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings, referring to it as “a banner with a discriminatory symbol relating to national origin and political opinion.”